Josef Hofer

Austria, 1945

Josef Hofer may not speak much, but he draws constantly. He was born in 1945 and spent his early life on a farm in Upper Austria. He suffered from learning difficulties and from hearing and speech problems. When Josef’s father died, his mother took him to live in Kirschlag, thereby exposing him to social contact and giving him the opportunity to attend a day clinic. These changes proved beneficial, and Josef even spoke a few words. He later became an inpatient at an institution in Ried, where he was encouraged to create. Pepi, as he signs his works, observes and narrates his own life. His works are a mirror reflecting both himself and the spectator and revealing the hypnotic infancy of art. Michel Thévoz wrote, “Josef Hofer is in a state of grace” – an erotic, untrammeled state of grace where the body strives to break free from the prison of the frame. A sensual, raw nudity shines through confident, unpolished lines in warm hues. Numerous exhibitions and publications have been devoted to Josef’s art since the retrospective held by the Collection de l’Art Brut in 2003. His work was shown at Turin 2010 by the Museum of Everything, while in 2011  a retrospective of his work, together with a catalogue, was exhibited in Prague. Later this year, he also became the first artist to have a second retrospective devoted to his work at the Collection de l’Art Brut, accompanied by a major book-length study.